Business support and advice
Support and advice for businesses affected by COVID-19.

Employers and employees advice - COVID-19

Face mask

This page was updated on the 6 January 2021

National Lockdown - Stay at Home

An amendment to The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2020 came into force on the 6 January, they impose closures and restrictions upon a number of businesses (also known as National Lockdown 3). As the Council understands the new legislation and is offered advice by Government these page will be subject to change. Preston is currently under Tier 4 Restrictions - Stay at Home.

Does my workplace have to close?

Business that must close and restricitions on opening

My workplace should be closed but its open, what can be done?

The Police and Preston City Council have powers to close businesses that remain open against the government orders.

You can report business you think should be closed using the button below

Report a coronavirus issue form

See our Covid-19 compliance in business webpages to see enforcement actions taken by Environmental Health

For details of further restrictions, not affecting businesses, visit our FAQs on local restrictions page.

My workplace can remain open, what can it do to prevent the spread of Coronavirus?

The Health and Safety Executive have published two guidance leaflets Working Safely During the Coronavirus Outbreak and Talking with your Workers about Preventing Coronavirus which are very useful and should be read in conjunction with the rest of the information on this page.

The guidance below should be used only when the current coronavirus restrictions allow your business to operate.

The Government have directed that where possible and practical to do so, employees must work from home.

Risk Assessment

As an employer you should undertake a risk assessment focusing on Covid-19.

You should use the government guidance to help you inform and complete your risk assessments. The guidance is listed below.

For more information on how to undertake a risk assessment go to the Covid-19 HSE Risk Assessment web pages which include a template Risk Assessment.

Preston City Council has developed an Icon for pdf Example Covid-19 Risk Assessment [858.66KB] that you can use to help you when drafting your risk assessment.

  • Place posters that encourage staying home when sick, cough and sneeze etiquette, and hand hygiene at the entrance to the workplace and in other areas where they will be seen.
  • Provide employees with tissues and waste bins lined with a plastic bag so that they can be emptied without contacting the contents.
  • Instruct employees to clean their hands frequently, using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 70% alcohol and to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Provide paper towels and turn of hand dryers to prevent the spread of air borne particles.
  • Provide soap and water and alcohol-based hand rubs in the workplace. Ensure that adequate supplies are maintained. Place hand rubs in multiple locations and in common areas to encourage hand hygiene.
  • Ensure employees keep at least 2 meters away from each other, where possible.
  • Move workstations or designate workstations as vacant during this time.
  • Reduce the number of employees in the workplace at any one time, perhaps introduce shift working
  • Provide screens to protect employees from sneezes or coughs.
  • Prop open doors so they do not have to be touched (however you should consider your fire risk assessment if the doors are fire doors nor allow staff to work in an uncomfortable draft).
  • Allow employees to work from home, where possible and practical to do so. Please visit the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) guidance for home working.
  • Make sure ventilation systems are operating properly and that windows are opened to allow fresh air into the premises.

You should share the results of your risk assessment with your workforce. If possible, you should consider publishing the results on your website (and we would expect all businesses with over 50 workers to do so).

Below you will find a notice you should display in your workplace to show you have followed this guidance.

Staying Covid-19 Secure Poster

Do Customers need to wear face masks in my business?

The government has brought into law the requirement that customers wear face coverings in the following businesses;

  • public transport (aeroplanes, trains, trams and buses)
  • taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs)
  • transport hubs (airports, rail and tram stations and terminals, maritime ports and terminals, bus and coach stations and terminals)
  • shops and supermarkets (places which offer goods or services for retail sale or hire)
  • shopping centres (malls and indoor markets)
  • auction houses
  • premises providing hospitality (bars, pubs, restaurants, cafes), except when seated at a table to eat or drink (see exemptions) from 24 September
  • post offices, banks, building societies, high-street solicitors and accountants, credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses
  • premises providing personal care and beauty treatments (hair salons, barbers, nail salons, massage centres, tattoo and piercing parlours)
  • premises providing veterinary services
  • visitor attractions and entertainment venues (museums, galleries, cinemas, theatres, concert halls, cultural and heritage sites, aquariums, indoor zoos and visitor farms, bingo halls, amusement arcades, adventure activity centres, indoor sports stadiums, fun fairs, theme parks, casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor play areas including soft-play areas)
  • libraries and public reading rooms
  • places of worship
  • funeral service providers (funeral homes, crematoria and burial ground chapels)
  • community centres, youth centres and social clubs
  • exhibition halls and conference centres
  • public areas in hotels and hostels
  • storage and distribution facilities

Can customers remove their face coverings?

Customers can remove their face covering when seated at tables to consume food or drink, in hospitality venues.

Are employees required to wear face coverings?

Employees in the types of premises listed below must wear face coverings;

  1. Shops, (Shops are premises where goods or services are sold for example; takeaways, cafes, beauty salons, hairdressers/barbers, chain store, supermarket, convenience store, cash and carry, factory outlet, boutique, etc)
  2. Enclosed shopping centres.
  3. Restaurants with table service, including restaurants and dining rooms in hotels or members clubs.
  4. Bars, including bars in hotels, or members clubs.
  5. Banks, building societies, credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and undertakings which by way of business operate a currency exchange office, transmit money (or any representation of money) by any means or cash cheque's which are made payable to customers.
  6. Post offices.
  7. Community centres, youth centres, members clubs and social clubs.
  8. Public areas in hotels and hostels.
  9. Concert halls, exhibition halls, conference centres or other public halls.
  10. Cinemas.
  11. Museums, galleries, aquariums, indoor zoos and visitor farms and other indoor parts of tourist, heritage or cultural sites.
  12. Bingo halls.
  13. Public libraries and reading rooms.
  14. Casinos.
  15. Theatres

Note: Businesses providing legal or financial services do not count as a shop (for the purposes of the face covering legislation).

 You should undertake a risk assessment to decide if your employees should wear face coverings/masks or visors.

If employees are within 2 meters of customers and talking to them, then they may be required to wear a face visor for protection, e.g. a waitress or bar staff.

Are there exemptions to wearing a face covering?

You do not need to wear a face covering if you have a legitimate reason not to. This includes (but is not limited to):

  • young children under the age of 11,
  • not being able to put on, a face covering because of a disability,
  • it will cause severe distress,  
  • providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate,
  • to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or other, to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm,
  • to eat or drink if reasonably necessary,
  • in order to take medication,
  • if a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering

There are also scenarios when you are permitted to remove a face covering when asked:

  • if asked to do so in a bank, building society, or post office for identification
  • if asked to do so by shop staff or relevant employees for identification, the purpose of assessing health recommendations, such as a pharmacist, or for age identification purposes including when buying age restricted products such as alcohol
  • if speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound. Some may ask you, either verbally or in writing, to remove a covering to help with communication

Should my employees approach persons not wearing a facemask?

Employees should already be trained in approaching customers who are breaking rules and forming a judgement on whether they can approach that person or if they may need further assistance. Employers should review their workplace violence risk assessment. The Police enforce the regulations on wearing face covering and they should be called on 999

  • a serious offence is in progress or has just been committed
  • someone is in immediate danger or harm
  • property is in danger of being damaged
  • a serious disruption to the public is likely
  • or on 101 in non-emergency situations, for advice etc.

For full details of the requirements to wear face coverings you should visit Face coverings: when to wear one and how to make your own

Example face covering posters for businesses;

Icon for pdf Poster - You must wear a face covering [519.38KB]

Icon for pdf Poster - Customers may remove face covering for eating [503.2KB]

Icon for pdf Poster - Remove face mask if requested (Security) [312.64KB]

Icon for pdf Poster - No Mask No Food [655.92KB]

ACS Face Covering Posters

Sector Specific Guidance published by the Government

The government, in consultation with industry, has produced guidance to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible, this is the HM Government Guidance.  When undertaking your risk assessment you must have regard to the available guidance.

Following the guidance is not compulsory, unless specifically stated, and you are free to take other action, so long as the same level of protection is achieved.

But if you do follow the guidance you will normally be doing enough to comply with the law.

Health and safety inspectors seek to secure compliance with the law and may refer to guidance. Failure to implement suitable control measure may lead to formal action being taken against the duty holder(s).

Other industry guidance is also included below.

These guides cover a range of different types of work. Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. You may need to use more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe;

Displaying information

Ensure sufficient signage is displayed so customers and employees understand the rules in place within your premises.

As a minimum we would expected to see the following information displayed within premises;

Icon for pdf Poster - Covid Secure Premises [524.17KB]

Icon for pdf Poster - Hands, Face, Space [524.38KB]

Icon for pdf Poster - Keep a Safe Distance [511.23KB]

Icon for pdf Poster - Please Use Hand Sanitiser [503.64KB]


Food and Hospitality




Offices and Contact Centres



Hair and Beauty Salons and Spa's



Places of Worship

Residential Care

Outdoor Business

Education Settings



Peripatetic Workers 

Someone at my workplace is unwell

  • If anyone becomes unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature in the business or workplace they should be sent home and advised to follow the GOV.UK - Covid-19 Stay at home guidance.

  • If they need clinical advice, they should go online to NHS 111 or call 111 if they don't have Internet access. In an emergency, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. Do not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital.
  • If a member of staff has helped someone who was taken unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves. They should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell with symptoms consistent with coronavirus infection.
  • It is not necessary to close the business or workplace or send any staff home, unless government policy changes. Keep monitoring the GOV.UK - Covid-19 UK Government response page for the latest details

Someone at my workplace is in a vulnerable group

  • Employees from defined GOV.UK - Vulnerable groups should be strongly advised and supported to stay at home and work from there if possible

Someone at my workplace has had a confirmed case of coronavirus, what should happen?

  • There is no need to close the workplace, thorough cleaning should occur.
  • Ensure that any workstation or areas in which the employee has spent time has been thoroughly cleaned.
  • There is no need to thoroughly clean the entire premises or communal areas such as corridors through which the person may have passed.
  • Follow the directions on GOV.UK - Covid-19 Decontamination in non-healthcare-settings
  • If there is more than one case of COVID-19 in a workplace, employers should contact their local health protection team to report the suspected outbreak, and seek advice.

PHE Cumbria and Lancashire Health Protection Team


Phone: 0344 225 0562 option 2

Out of office: 0151 434 4819

My workplace handles cash, what can be done?

  • There is no law to prevent workplaces from accepting cash transactions. However the virus can be transmitted on cash. Therefore employees are at risk if handling cash when they are taking orders and cashing up at the end of the night. If employees catch the virus you maybe forced to close the business (because everyone is sick or isolating), especially in small businesses.

    We would strongly recommend setting up a contactless payment system. There are systems such as iZettle, sum up, or square reader (other brands are also available). These are usually relatively cheap to set up and run.

Employee Training

You will need to ensure that all employees are given suitable and sufficient training in the new Covid-19 control measures that you are implementing within your workplace. In large workplaces you will need to ensure that all employees have adequate supervision to ensure Social Distancing is maintained.

There are free on-line training courses available to help you educate your employees on the basics and background to Covid-19 many can be found using a Google search.

Where can I go for advice on employer and employee relations?

The Environmental Health department cannot get involved in disputes between employers and employees.

Generally if an employer requires you to attend work you should go, or you may be subject to disciplinary proceedings.

If you cannot reach a compromise with your employer you should contact your Trade Union, ACAS or Citizens Advice for advice and guidance.

The ACAS website has a dedicated COVID-19 section which gives advice on topics such as working safely, working from home, furlough and pay, shielding and vulnerable, sick pay for isolation, holidays and leave and redundancy etc.

Reporting under RIDDOR

You must only make a report under RIDDOR (The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) when: 

  • an unintended incident at work has led to someone's possible or actual exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence.
  • a worker has been diagnosed as having Covid-19 and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work. This must be reported as a case of disease.
  • a worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus

For further information on Covid-19 and RIDDOR, or to make a RIDDOR report got to the HSE's website RIDDOR Reporting of COVID-19.

The Environmental Health Department is committed to helping both employers and employees during the Covid-19 emergency.

We would urge employers to take socially responsible decisions and listen to the concerns of their workforce.

We ask that all employees work with their employers to create and maintain a safe working environment for everyone.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for advice or information. You can contact us on 01772 906907 or email

An image relating to Reopening Workplaces after the Closure Period
Before you re-open your business you need to consider how to do it safely.

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